SpaceX’s Starlink service tends to get much of the attention in the next generation low earth orbit (LEO) satellite broadband movement. But not too far behind Starlink is Amazon Kuiper broadband service.
Amazon Kuiper broadband service has many of the same aspirations of Starlink. Blanket the Earth with lower orbiting satellites than traditional satellite broadband players and offer a competitive broadband service targeting unserved and underserved markets.
Amazon Kuiper just announced some progress towards this plan, with the selection of United Launch Alliance (ULA) and the Atlas V launch vehicle to put its satellites in orbit. Amazon intends to eventually launch 3,236 satellites to support Project Kuiper.
Amazon has set aside $10 billion for project Kuiper. The company already has over 500 employees working on the effort.
“We’re determined to make affordable broadband a reality for customers and communities around the world,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO in a blog post. “ULA is a fantastic partner that’s successfully launched dozens of missions for commercial and government customers, and we’re grateful for their support of Kuiper.”
Amazon has developed its own end terminal for Kuiper broadband. The current design of the terminal is reported to support up to 400 Mbps. Amazon hasn’t formally announced the launch date for Kuiper, but its FCC authorization requires the company to have 50% of its satellites launched and operating by July 30, 2026.
Starlink is already in beta with over 10K subscribers on the system. Starlink is currently offered for $99/month and $499 for equipment.
Both SpaceX and Amazon have a history of disruption and both have intimated that’s their intention for the broadband access industry. Although success for LEO satellite broadband is by no means certain. There are a fair share of skeptics, and there are also additional companies interested in LEO broadband, potentially creating a crowded field of options.
A recent LEO satellite broadband forecast from market research firm ABI predicts 5 million subscribers by the end of 2026.